Over the past 12 months I’ve been to every major accountancy event around the world, given Keynotes at most of them, had some very honest conversations with many pioneering firms, some mind-blowing, some tearful, helped hundreds more with their growth, worked closely with some of the best accountancy apps and have learned a lot.

In our own accountancy firm, we’ve taken those learnings as well as inspiration from outside the accounting industry and have seen the largest growth in the impact we’re having on our clients, the efficiencies of our team, the growth in our revenue and the growth in our profits.

Through all of this, I have arrived at some interesting truths, which some accountancy firm owners may find harsh.

But before you read them, I want you to actively engage with this.

If you strongly agree or disagree with any of the points, please comment below.

If you like it, please hit the ‘Like’ button.

If you agree with them, please hit the ‘Share’ button and spread the word.

101 Harsh Truths Accountancy Firm Owners Need To Face

  1. You don’t run an accountancy firm, you run a business.
  2. The primary function of a business is to make money
  3. The only two ways to make more money, are to get more clients or give more value to the clients you have
  4. Businesses should run on systems and then people should run the systems
  5. If your business is run by people, you don’t have a business, you have chaos
  6. Having a consistent, profitable pricing system is fundamental to your growth and survival
  7. If the fees your clients pay are decided by people, rather than a system, see point 5.
  8. If you can’t easily agree services levels and fees in front of your client, you will be leaving money on the table and clients confused and underwhelmed.
  9. Systems must be constantly evolving
  10. Whatever you expect, you have to inspect.
  11. Great technology will not correct bad processes.
  12. Automation is not the goal. Systemisation is the goal. Automation is a bonus.
  13. Your value to your clients is directly proportional to the size of the problems you can solve for them.
  14. Accounting jobs will not disappear. Only the routines we’ve become attached to.
  15. If you act like a robot, don’t be surprised when you’re replaced by one
  16. Compliance is not dead.
  17. If you can’t make compliance profitable, then you won’t be able to make advisory profitable either.
  18. Advisory is not business advice. It’s budgets, forecasts and holding your clients to account.
  19. The new role of the accountant is to hold your client to account.
  20. If you don’t use the core services you sell, you can’t sell them, because you’re not sold on them yourself.
  21. If you don’t focus on growing your revenue and your profit, how can you help your clients to do the same.
  22. Selling is an exchange of value. If you don’t sell, you can’t add value.
  23. Good clients rarely exist. You have to make them good.
  24. Bad clients don’t start out bad, you turn them bad.
  25. If you discount your prices, you are training your clients to be bad.
  26. If you give anything away for free, you are training your clients not to value what you do
  27. Some clients truly are bad and need to go.
  28. If you compete on price, you will eventually lose to the bigger boys with deeper pockets.
  29. You need to carry out a fee review for payroll every month. Staff come and go.
  30. You need to carry out fee reviews for bookkeeping every quarter. Transactions increase and decrease.
  31. You need to carry out full GLOSS Reviews every year otherwise you can’t be maximizing the value you provide to your clients.
  32. If your clients aren’t paying you monthly, you won’t carry out regular fee reviews because it will be too much of a pain.
  33. If your clients aren’t paying you monthly, you are hindering the one thing you promise to help… their cashflow.
  34. If your clients aren’t paying you monthly, you can’t scale at any pace, because you’ll go bust
  35. Being in business for 100 years isn’t a claim to fame, unless you’ve been getting better year on year.
  36. If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.
  37. If you’re not giving more value than you did last year, then you’re giving less.
  38. If you’re not giving more value than you did last year, then you’re valued less.
  39. If all of your clients aren’t on the cloud, then you need a rapid plan in place to get them there.
  40. Your clients don’t care about you.
  41. Your clients don’t want what you have
  42. Your clients only care about themselves and how you can benefit them.
  43. Business is a game.
  44. Your business is your game and should be played by your rules.
  45. Just because you don’t have a certain qualification, doesn’t mean you can’t add more value than someone who does.
  46. Just because you’re small, doesn’t mean you can’t provide more value than someone who’s big. Small can mean nimble.
  47. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you can’t provide more value than someone who’s been around a long time.
  48. If you’re not in control of your clients, they will be in control of you.
  49. If you’re not in control of your culture, someone else will be.
  50. Just because that client pays you a lot of money, if they’re a bad culture fit, they have to go.
  51. Just because that member of staff is good at their job, if they’re a bad culture fit, they have to go.
  52. You only ever have one of two problems, either a systems problem or a people problem.
  53. You will always have a people problem.
  54. People are awesome and people are awful.
  55. Someone who says “Yes but…” is really saying “No” in disguise.
  56. If someone keeps saying “Yes but…” they’re probably a bad culture fit. See point 51.
  57. Your staff will be more motivated by their personal goals, than they will be about your business goals
  58. If you don’t clearly communicate your business goals every day, to all your team, how can you expect them to help you to get there?
  59. If you don’t clearly communicate your core values every day, to all your team, how can you expect them to uphold your culture?
  60. If you’re a multi-partner firm and each partner hasn’t communicated their own personal goals and motives, there’s no way your business can be pulling in the same direction.
  61. Most multi-partner firms are just multiple businesses under one brand, pulling in different directions.
  62. Several people pulling the same thing in different directions stay still
  63. Staying still is the most dangerous strategy.
  64. Just because you’ve always done something that way, is not a good enough reason to keep doing something that way.
  65. You are no longer operating in a UK or an Australian or a US market. You are operating in a global market.
  66. That thing is not outside your comfort zone, because you are not comfortable where you are
  67. Your clients have no loyalty to you. Not really.
  68. You are no longer being compared to other accountancy firms. You are being compared to any business your clients want to compare you to.
  69. Your clients will remember how you made them feel, longer after they’ve forgotten what you’ve done for them
  70. The experience you provide to your clients shape the way they feel.
  71. The ultimate reason to systemise, is to create incredible experiences.
  72. If the experience you provide is crap, you will lose to someone’s whose isn’t
  73. If you don’t know your client’s personal goals, you can’t be giving them all the value you can.
  74. If you’re not using video as a communication channel to prospects and clients, you need to start.
  75. If you still charge on time, you need to stop.
  76. Knowledge has no value.
  77. Getting sh*t done has value.
  78. You are in the people business, not the accounting business.
  79. If your staff don’t like talking to people, they’re in the wrong business
  80. If your team aren’t being trained in something every week, you’re losing to the team which is.
  81. Investing in an outsourced or offshored team, is not taking jobs away from your local team. It’s freeing them up to have better conversations and a greater impact.
  82. Without an outsourcing/offshoring element to your team, busy seasons will always be just that.
  83. If you outsource/offshore, you can be working 24/7, 5 days a week and operating 3 times faster.
  84. Some offshored staff will be more enthusiastic, more skilled, more engaged and more willing than your local staff.
  85. Your clients won’t care whether you offshore or not. They only care about the value they’re getting.
  86. Accountancy businesses are no longer valued at 1x fees. Some are valued much less. Some are valued much more.
  87. The accounting industry has not seen any real disruption. Not really. Not yet
  88. If you get distracted by the noise, you will miss out on the prize.
  89. The only two questions to ask yourself which block out the noise are: Will this help me to serve my clients to a higher level and have a greater impact on their business? And will this help us to grow our revenue and our profits? Everything else is a distraction.
  90. Version one of something is better than version none of something.
  91. Making decisions is not as powerful as just deciding.
  92. Taking decisive action is the only force that moves a business forward.
  93. A decision is not final. Remember, you can always decide again.
  94. Never test the depth of water with both feet, but at least test the depth with one.
  95. If you only ever look for what’s wrong, you’ll miss out on what’s right, or what could be right.
  96. You only have a finite amount of time and energy. Invest it wisely.
  97. The only thing unique about your accountancy business, is that it’s the only business on the planet designed to give you the life that you want.
  98. If your accountancy business isn’t giving you the life that you want, then something has to change; either your expectations or your behaviours.
  99. You only get so many laps of the sun
  100. With each passing year, those laps get less.
  101. If not this way, then how? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Which are the ones that resonate the most?

And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

James Ashford

James Ashford

James is the Founder of GoProposal, Director of MAP., Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author of "Selling to Serve". He helps accountants and bookkeepers around the world to price more profitably, sell more confidently and to give significantly more value to their clients.